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May 19, 2011

Coal Fades As Clean Energy Rises

Wind Roger Singer loved the recent good energy news out of Colorado.

"We're now seeing further on-the-ground evidence that a swift conversion by energy providers from dirty coal to increased levels of clean, renewable energy sources is not only possible, but it's also easier than expected and it's cost effective," said Singer, Regional Representative for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal campaign in Colorado.

He's beaming about a utility, if you can believe it: "Colorado Utility Meets Renewable Goal Eight Years Ahead of Schedule," read the headlines.

Singer joined many of us who cheered the news when Xcel Energy announced that it would meet Colorado's year-old mandate to generate at least 30-percent of its electricity from renewable resources (renewable electricity standard) eight full years ahead of the mandate's 2020 deadline.

Even better? "State Clean Energy Mandates Have Little Effect on Electricity Rates So Far." In fact, we learned from the Colorado Governor's Energy Office (PDF) that when Xcel Energy added 500-megawatts of new coal, and rates increased six percent. When they added 1,300-megawatts of clean wind and solar, rates went up two percent.

Across the country, we're seeing a major growth in clean energy because it is competitive. This announcement in Colorado was just another example.

"Xcel's achievement demonstrates that clean and safe alternatives to dirty and dangerous coal-fired power are available today," Singer said.

When Colorado approved a 30-percent Renewable Energy Standard in last year's legislative session, it was the most ambitious renewable energy standard in the country (California has since approved a 33 percent standard). Yet even this ambitious standard was easily surpassed.

Xcel's push for clean energy helped create more boots-on-the-ground clean energy jobs to get the utility to those targets. Singer said this will inspire and reassure other states and utilities.

"I hope that our successfully passed state level policy will become a model for other states to employ, as well as for national policy makers to take note of. We are capable of so much more. If clean energy can succeed in Colorado, it can succeed all over America."

p.s. Last week people were rightfully outraged at the news that Scholastic was allowing the American Coal Foundation write energy curriculum for 4th graders all about the benefits of coal.

This week Scholastic announced that it would no longer distribute the curriculum.

-- Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign


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